Skip to Content

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala really is the Grand Daddy of Anglo Indian Curries, grilled marinated chicken in a spicy fragrant tomato-based sauce.

Portrait image of a steaming chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl with a fork against a dark backdrop

Chicken Tikka Masala.

The Indian curry from the famous Indian province of Glasgow!

Yup, that’s right, just like my chicken balti recipe this curry recipe hails from the United Kingdom.

It features yoghurt marinaded boneless chicken then grilled under a fierce heat. This would originally have been done in a tandoor oven. But a grill or broiler is a great substitute.

It is then finished off in a heavily spiced and slightly sweet tomato sauce.

It is utterly delicious and a great place to start for any novice curry cook.

Portrait close up image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl

Are Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken The Same?

You would not be mistaken in thinking that this recipe and butter chicken are similar dishes.

They are indeed very similar, in fact, the only difference between the two is the sauce.

The sauce in a chicken tikka masala recipe is not butter heavy, whereas the sauce or gravy for butter chicken is.

Seriously that is the only real difference between the two.

Both are effectively ways of adding gravy to chicken tikka. Chicken tikka is effectively nothing more than boneless tandoori chicken.

Obviously, in a restaurant environment, this broadens your menu with little effort!

The grilled or broiled chicken tikka is an essential part of the recipe, do not trust any tikka masala recipe that omits this process.

Portrait close up image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper coated curry bowl

The Origins Of The Chicken Tikka Masala.

My favourite story about the origin of this chicken curry recipe involves beer… It would, wouldn’t it?

Rumour has it back in the 1960’s a drunken punter strolled into a curry house in Glasgow and order a chicken tikka.

When his dish was presented he complained mercilessly that it was dry and where was his sauce.

The waiter took away his dish and returned it to the kitchen where the enterprising chef fashioned a gravy from a tin of tomato soup.

Just like that, the chicken tikka masala was born.

In reality that may or may not be true.

However, the dish is born of the Bengali leanings of migrants to the UK from what was then East Pakistan. It is food that I love, as you can tell from the vast number of curry recipes I cook!

Portrait image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl with a fork

Sides and Accompaniments.

I like to keep my sides to a curry simple and fairly neutral.

There are so many flavours in a good curry that adding a second curry or strongly flavoured dish seems odd to me.

I usually favour a simply cooked basmati rice and then a flatbread.

As a Brummie then that flatbread should be a naan bread to me. But you could add a roti or chapati and be as good as gold.

Most importantly do not forget the beer, a curry and a beer is at the heart of where this recipe came from!

And if you are on the hunt for more curry then check out all of my chicken curry recipes.

Square image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in two copper coated curry bowls served with naan bread against a dark backdrop
Yield: 2 Servings

Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes

A chicken tikka masala is often the recipe first thought of when curry is mentioned, my version cuts back on the richness but leaves all of the flavour. A true British Indian classic recipe!


For the Chicken Tikka:

  • 400 g (14 oz) Chicken Breast
  • 75 g (1/2 Cup) Onion
  • 125 g (1 Cup) Natural Yoghurt
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt

For the Masala Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Ghee
  • 100 g (2/3 Cup) Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 175 ml (3/4 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1/8 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Sugar


  1. Cut the chicken in to 3cm cubes.
  2. Take the garlic and ginger and blend to form a paste, adding a little water if required.
  3. Mix this garlic and ginger paste with the remaining ingredients for the chicken tikka, with the exception of the chicken and the onion.
  4. Now add in the chicken and massage in the marinade, now set aside and allow to marinate for up to 24 hours but a minimum of 4 hours.
  5. Chop the onion for the masala sauce into a 5mm dice.
  6. Finely chop the ginger and garlic for the masala sauce.
  7. Heat the ghee in a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add the onion and fry until golden for 10 minutes.
  8. Take the onion for the tikka and peel it and then cut it into quarters..
  9. Meanwhile, heat your broiler to high and thread your chicken on to high and thread your chicken on to metal skewers along with the onion quarters.
  10. When the broiler is hot place the chicken tikka skewers under and cook for 8-10 minutes a side making sure you get them nice and caramalised. 
  11. Add the ginger and garlic to the onions and cook for a further 60 seconds.
  12. Add all of the dried spices and herbs to the garlic ginger and onion mix and cook for 60 seconds once again stirring continuously.
  13. Now add the salt, sugar, tomato pasata and tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes.
  14. I now like to blend the sauce at this stage rather than blending the onion, garlic and ginger earlier you can, of course, leave your sauce chunky. If blending return to the pan and reheat.
  15. Finally, add in the chicken and saute in the sauce for 4-5 minutes and serve, ensuring the chicken reaches an internal temperature reaches 73°C.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 603Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 211mgSodium: 1213mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 7gSugar: 12gProtein: 78g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Portrait image of BBQ duck kebabs served on a white plate with grilled lettuce and seared orange segments
BBQ Duck Kebab with Orange and Asparagus
Portrait overhead image of cured mackerel served in a salad featuring asparagus spears and pomelo
Blow Torched Cured Mackerel Fillet With Asparagus


Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Hi Brian! Looking forward to trying this. One question: The ingredients for the chicken tikka says 75g (half cup) of onion, does this refer to the onion that is quartered and added to the skewers or is it to be chopped/pureed and added to the marinade? Thank you.

Brian Jones

Monday 4th of January 2021

Hi Karon... The onion goes on to the skewers and not into the marinade, thanks for pointing out that is a little unclear, I have updated the recipe to make it a little clearer :)


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Hi Brian Just making your chicken tikka recipe and am a bit confused as what you do with the onion quarters, do they go in the marinade? I’m also having trouble getting Fenugreek leaves, can I substitute with Fenugreek powder or seeds? I have made your lamb madras and your chicken jalfrezi and I have to say they are amazing so thank you for the recipe.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Hey there Daniey, I can see where the confusion is coming in here, I have moved the positioning of the onion to a more appropriate spot in the recipe instructions. But the onions do not need to go into the marinade, they are just threaded onto the skewers with the chicken after it has been marinaded and just before it goes under the grill :)

Yes you can sub for seeds or powder, try starting out with 1/2 tsp in with the rest of the spices in the sauce and see where you go from there.

BTW so glad you like what you have cooked so far :)

Gail Warwick

Monday 4th of March 2019

I have every ingredient in my pantry/freezer except for the yoghurt and tomato pasata. I just ordered the pasata on-line and when it arrives I will just run to the store for the yoghurt. I have made a few of your Indian recipes before (hence having all the ingredients), and based on those experiences, I can't wait to try this. I also plan on making some of the other Indian dishes on this thread. Thank you!

Brian Jones

Monday 4th of March 2019

Thanks Gail... Glad you are enjoying a stroll through my curry recipes, I seem to have a 'thing' for curry.


Tuesday 2nd of January 2018

this sounds amazing bud and can't wait to try it. ps your pathia is lovely. Ash

Brian Jones

Thursday 4th of January 2018

Cheers Ash! Glad you like the pathia, probably my favourite curry dish both at home and out and about :)


Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Awesome photos! This recipe looks delicious!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Thanks Juli :)